Approaching Democracy is the American Government book with a clear and compelling central theme, designed to elevate student interest. Approaching Democracy addresses the evolving nature of the American experiment in democratic government. It teaches students the theory and the basics of American political science, the political history of this nation, and provides the critical thinking skills needed to analyze these evolving relationships. The title and theme for this book come from Vaclav Havel, a former dissident Czech playwright once imprisoned by the his country's Communist government and later elected president. Addressing a joint session of the U.S. Congress on February 1, 1990, Havel noted that with the collapse of the Soviet Union, millions of people from Eastern Europe were involved in a historically irreversible process: beginning their quest for freedom and democracy. And it was the United Stated of America that provided the model for these newly freed peoples. But Havel put his own spin on the notion of American democracy as a model. "As long as people are people," Havel explained, "democracy, in the full sense of the word, will always be no more than an ideal.
In this sense, you too are merely approaching democracy. But you have one great advantage: you have been approaching democracy uninterruptedly for more than two hundred years, and your journey toward the horizon has never been disrupted by a totalitarian system." Larry Berman and Bruce Allen Murphy, long-time teachers of the introductory American Political science course in both large and small public and private universities, set out to write a book that offers a clear theme -- a theme that is just as relevant, if not more so today than when it was first presented -- in a highly readable, easy-to-understand format. Both authors enjoy teaching and are actively engaged in new methods of engaging students and empowering them to participate in political discourse.
Table of Contents
PART I FOUNDATIONS OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY 1. Approaching Democracy 2. The Founding and the Constitution The Constitution of the United States 3. Federalism PART II INSTITUTIONS OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY 4. Congress 5. The Presidency 6. The Judiciary 7. The Bureaucracy PART III PROCESSES OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY 8. Public Opinion 9. Political Parties 10. Participation, Voting, and Elections 11. Interest Groups 12. The Media PART IV LIBERTIES AND RIGHTS IN AMERICAN DEMOCRACY 13. Civil Liberties 14. Civil Rights and Political Equality 15. Domestic and Economic Policy 16. Foreign Policy Appendix 1: Introducing the Concept of Approaching Democracy Appendix 2: Presidents and Congresses, 1789--2006 Appendix 3: Supreme Court Justices Appendix 4: The Declaration of Independence Appendix 5: The Federalist, No. 10, James Madison Appendix 6: The Federalist, No. 51, James Madison Appendix 7: Student Guide: ABC Newsa /Prentice Hall Videos in American Government